Leanan Sidhe
rating: +1+x

Basic Information

The leanan sidhe1 is a creature of Irish myth, nominally a fairy, but also with strong aspects of the succubus, vampire and the muse.

Traditionally a dweller in barrow mounds the leanan sidhe seeks out men of an artistic bent (these creatures being traditionally female) and seeks to seduce them. Some accounts suggest that a man who is capable of resisting the creature's charms for long enough can gain mastery over it and use its powers to his own ends, otherwise the sidhe robs him of his will and enters into semi-symbiotic relationship in which it amplifies his artistic talents whilst draining him of his life-force. The man's career flares briefly and then he dies young, leaving the leanan sidhe to move on to her next victim.

Opinions vary as to whether the sidhe takes human form, haunts the victim's dreams or has some other way of staying close to him (such as invisibility or super-stealth - if a spirit, bring imminent or simply present without becoming apparent would serve.)

Interestingly, according to Irish mythology a leanan sidhe named Birog is depicted as helping the hero Cian break into the tower of Balor's fortress where he fathered Lugh on the Formorian princess Eithne, although in this case she appears more as a tutelary spirit or some kind of familiar or spirit ally than the usual parasitic creature.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Obvious applications to the fast living, young dying artists of popular music, and, in a more traditional vein, to artists like Keats.
    • Adventure hook: Mediocre artist has suddenly improved but has become withdrawn and doesn't look at all well.
    • Given the sidhe's way of working, her victim may not wish to be saved.
    • Rescue attempts may also be impeded by other supernatural beings that consider themselves patrons of the arts.
    • Even those who sucessfully escape the sidhe's grip may be prematurely aged.
  • Assuming someone does overpower a leanan sidhe … whose life-force does it feed on? Or does it eventually starve to death?
    • This might also be a good back story for a suitably hard-hearted (or just self disciplined) artist whose best work seems to be behind them… as a young man, they sucessfully mastered a leanan sidhe and produced great art until it died of failure to feed. Now he is forced back on his own, somewhat mediocre, talents.
  • Gender flip this Phantom of the Opera style.
  • Will struggle with a class and level system given that these traditionally express life-force as a function of level and have skills also based on level - anything that drains levels will normally reduce skill so an alternative mechanic will be needed.
  • Under normal classifications, this stands a good chance of being an unseelie fae.
  • Still, category confusion is likely - PCs may be at a loss as to what sort of tactics to use: anti-demon (works like a succubus)? Anti undead (also quite vampiric)? … or anti-fairy (somewhat counter-intuitive even if correct)?
  • So, Birog, actual Leanan Sidhe or actual fairy lover? Or something else?
  • The Leanansidhe - from The Dresden Files is something slightly different - a powerful fae noble belonging to the Winter Court, with no special connection to the performing arts.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License